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7 steps to create a safety excellence strategy & improve productivity

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For many years, safety in the workplace was a conceptual term closely associated with compliance and standard operating procedures. However, advances in safety methodologies, processes and technology have culminated in what’s now known as safety excellence.

A cross-industry transition is taking place – albeit in different stages – where organizations are beginning to move from reactive gap-filling regimes to integrated safety strategies.

But what does this transition look like? What are the challenges and influencing factors prompting organizations to re-think their approaches?

Ahead of the Future of Safety Excellence (FuSE) Conference in October, we caught up with Terry Mathis, Founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, and Shawn Galloway, President of ProAct Safety, to find out how organizations can create a safety excellence strategy based on transformational and continuous improvement. This article explores seven steps companies can take to ensure safety fits into the business operating model and enhances productivity.




Shawn Galloway, President and COO of ProAct Safety                                                               Terry Mathis, Founder and CEO of ProAct Safety

  1. Start with the strategy instead of the assessment

Companies have often approached safety by starting with a situational assessment, and begin, as Terry says, by “discovering a gap somewhere, and addressing it by throwing a program at it.”

“They would talk about it or take some kind of action, and we found that doing an assessment first was almost counterproductive to strategic thinking. There’s a risk where companies can become so reactive and engrossed in the details of an assessment,” he explains.

Without a strategy, a company is perpetually firefighting different issues with limited coordination. According to Shawn, strategy isn’t merely stating where the company is heading or how it’s going to get there in the context of safety excellence.

Instead, it’s a framework of choices a company makes to determine how to capture and deliver value. That’s the essence of strategy.

“With strategy, you have to clearly define where you’re going and what it looks like when you get there. What success looks like serves as a qualifier for choices of what we’re going to do, not do or stop doing,” Shawn says.

“Assessment should prove or disprove the choices you’re making. Assessment isn’t completely divorced from strategy. It’s a part of it, but strategy begins as a hypothesis on how we are going to win and add value.”

  1. Use the assessment to validate choices related to safety

The assessment should comprise data gathering to validate or invalidate decisions. Some of these decisions could expose other issues that need to be dealt with first, and therefore re-define the focus.

Benchmarking against strategy helps to prioritize safety requirements in the short and long term. Otherwise, there is an assumption at the executive level that everyone perceives safety the same way.

“We’ve found that it’s entirely the opposite” says Terry. “Everyone has a different idea of how it ought to be, and if you don’t get together on how it ought to be, then each person or business unit goes off their own vision of what safety ought to be.”

This article is part of an insights series ahead of the Future of Safety Excellence (FuSE) Conference, where Terry and Shawn will present on ensuring safety excellence is supported by continuous improvement and drives value creation and business productivity.

Continue reading the full article to learn more about using situational assessments to validate safety-related decisions, and combining safety & production strategies to align injury/incident prevention with organizational needs.

If you’d like to know more about the Future of Safety Excellence (FuSE) conference, please download the brochure or visit





The year that was and the year that will be

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The end of the year is a good time to take a deep breath, look back and reflect on successes and challenges, in business and life.

2015 was quite a year – I have learned more in the last year than the 20 previous year’s combined. Starting and running your own business tends to do that.

Running a commercial conference business has never been easy – starting a new conference business in a new market in an industry with the challenges the oil and gas sector currently faces, has a fairly high degree of difficulty, to say the least. But we are still here, with some good events under our belt, an enthusiastic and battle tested team – ready to continue to grow and provide quality conferences to our customers.

Regardless of the state of any sector, there will always the need for education, ideas and networking. My team and I remain convinced that conferences are an important tool to help executives navigate through the low price environment, with a focus on increasing efficiencies and reducing costs.

Some E&P and service companies are not just surviving but thriving in the current environment, and are very well positioned for the upswing. Crisis creates opportunity. Cliches abound – “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” (thanks Billy Ocean) – creativity and flexibility in business models, relationships and offerings are key.

That said, we are fortunate to be able to take our experience and model into other sectors – and are pleased to announce the launch of and We have launched events under both businesses – and look forward to extending our knowledge and experience into the infrastructure and healthcare sectors.

We cannot wait for our 2016 events!

– Symon Rubens, CEO

Creativity in conferences

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In tough times, creativity is essential. And there is no getting around it – the energy sector is facing some challenges. So how does a start-up energy focused conference company gain traction and grow rapidly when budgets are being slashed and the market size is shrinking?

By being creative.

Oil price sub $50? Life goes on, business continues, companies continue to spend money. There is more scrutiny, but this is a good thing. It forces everyone to up their game, provide real value and look for solutions that work for all parties. It is no longer – “here is my product, if you want it this is the price. If you don’t want it, someone else will.”

There needs to be more dialogue, less pitches. What are your objectives – be they business development, knowledge acquisition or market positioning? How can we help you meet your objectives?

I love conferences – they are a living, breathing thing. They can be shaped and moulded to meet the objectives of the market. They can be many different things to many different people. At my company, we passionately believe conferences are the best forum for idea exchange, marketing and networking. The very nature of conferences leads to helping grow businesses.

But they need to be done right. We need to be flexible. The best conference is not the one with the most people or the one that runs exactly on time – it is the conference that meets the greatest number of objectives and contributes to solving the greatest number of challenges for the most number of participants.

How can we help you reach your objectives and solve your challenges?

These obviously differ per company. That is why we must ask all stakeholders.

Dialogues, not monologues. Discussions, not pitches.

Fundamentally we believe nothing beats shaking hands with peers and potential customers and nothing beats meaningful debate and discussion about topics that improve the bottom line. Conferences are awesome vehicles for this.

So let’s discuss ideas. How can we help? Let’s get creative.

Conference Connect

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When I founded the Energy Conference Network in 2014, one of the first priorities was to develop a technology platform that would enable pre-event networking and meeting scheduling. I had been to (and organized) too many events in the past where attendees missed meeting their prospective clients – like 2 ships passing in the night. Squinting at name badges was the only way they could locate prospects – not an optimal way to identify business opportunities.

For many, networking at a conference is its most important component – where theoretically they can meet and establish meaningful relationships with many peers in a short space of time. However, leaving meeting the right people to chance is not optimizing the investment made in attending the conference.

I looked at a few platforms, and decided to work with Pathable ( to develop a platform that not only enabled attendees to securely contact each other pre event, but created individualized conference schedules (including meetings and conference content) and discussion boards. We would also have the ability to create an app – so the interaction would continue onsite on all mobile devices. The platform integrates with our event website, and creates a seamless online experience for our attendees as soon as they sign up.

The idea is to create a community around the event – so that the conference lives before and after the 2 days it runs.

Conference Connect (as we have called the platform) has proven a big selling point to sponsors and attendees – it gives them surety that they can interact with all other attendees pre event – and post event. It is proving a real differentiator from other conferences – and will provide prospective attendees with a better business case when selling the event internally.

Like all new technologies the success will be judged on the user uptake and experience. We look forward to your feedback.
Symon Rubens

Energy Conference Network

The genesis of the Energy Conference Network

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I have been running conference companies for close to 2 decades – and have loved every minute of it. Organising conferences that meet and exceed industry expectations and play an important role in the advancement of best practice is very rewarding.

The previous companies I have managed have organised events in many sectors – telecommunications, infrastructure, healthcare, education, tourism, defense to name a few. Managers, producers, marketers, salespeople all gained some knowledge of each sector, but it was difficult to become true sector specialists – to really get close to the market and understand what they need to survive and thrive.

I knew my next company should focus on one sector – one that is central to the growth of all others.

The oil and gas sector is the engine that drives the global economy – and is one driven by technological advances, innovation and a commitment to growth. It is a sector that relies on close collaboration between all levels of the value chain to overcome significant challenges. It is an industry in which conferences can play a crucial role.

The Energy Conference Network has been established to work hand in hand with upstream, midstream and downstream organisations, as well as industry suppliers and contractors. It has been established to facilitate new business relationships and to contribute to the advancement of industry knowledge.

I am very excited to launch the Energy Conference Network, and build a company that will play an important role in the growth of the energy sector.

Symon Rubens


Energy Conference Network